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Keys tonight for George Mason

George Mason Basketball: Keys tonight for George Mason

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keys tonight for George Mason

It's the game we all circled on our calendars when the schedule was released, the first of two meetings between George Mason and VCU. We both teams involved in a three-way tie for first place with Drexel, it goes without saying that this game carries a lot of weight. I briefly talked about VCU yesterday but today I want to talk about what Mason needs to do to win this game. This should be the toughest game Mason has played all season because they haven't faced a team that can play defense like the Rams can.  They are one of the best teams in the country in forcing turnovers and turning them into points.  Very worrisome when you consider how many times a game the Patriots are turning it over.  On paper Mason looks like the stronger team with much better shooting and offensive numbers but a lot of what the Rams do well doesn't show up on a box score. Despite what their shooting numbers say they still have guys like Bradford Burgess and Troy Daniels who are both capable of hitting 5-7 three-pointers on any given night. At this point I'd give the edge in the back court to them and the edge in the front court to Mason.

Mason really has to impose their will in the paint area tonight. They really cannot afford to have Mike Morrison be a wallflower, both on the boards and on the scoreboard. I have no doubt he will be high-energy tonight and he will need to keep his composure.  Ryan Pearson will get a lot of attention tonight, and Shaka Smart's gameplan against him could have things starting off slow for #FeartheBeard.  If that happens, how Mason responds will go a long way into seeing who wins this game.

Keys tonight for George Mason:

Protect the ball: The most obvious key to tonight is how well the Patriots hold on to the ball against the thieving Rams. As I said yesterday they are #2 in the country right now in steals per game and are very good at turning them into points.  Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards will have their work cut out for them but it also comes down to guys like Ryan Pearson not making erratic passes out of the post.  The Rams turnover the ball a good amount themselves but Mason needs to keep the turnover margin in their favor to have a chance in this game. Will they try to keep the tempo down in this one? That will an interesting thing to keep on eye on.

Guard the perimeter: Bradford Burgess was 5-for-9 from behind the arch against ODU in the Rams latest victory and junior guard Troy Daniels is shooting above 38% from there on the season.  As a team they don't shoot much better from there than Mason but they have guys who are more likely to get hot from there. The most difficult thing for Mason on defense tonight will be getting back on defense in transition after a turnover and preventing the Rams from hitting a quick three-pointer. When the Rams get rolling that is what you can expect.

Keep doing what you're doing at the FT line: One of the Patriots biggest strengths this season is getting to the free-throw line and making their opponents pay for sending them there. Mike Morrison has improved recently from there and has gone 11-for-13 from the line in the last three games. Meanwhile Sherrod Wright, who leads the CAA in FT shooting percent (86.2) has gone 15-for-17 in the last four games and needs to keep doing what he's been doing late in the second half.  If VCU starts lighting up three-pointers, getting to the line might be the only way Mason can neutralize that. VCU might be just as athletic as Mason, but they don't get to the rim nearly as good. Mason can control the pace of the game by getting to the line and who dictates the pace could be very important tonight.

Rebounding: Another obvious key but more important tonight because the Rams take a lot of ugly shots.  Mason cannot allow them to grab offensive rebounds and must make them pay if they are having a poor shooting night.  Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison, and Erik Copes need to own the paint tonight and that starts with rebounding.  The Patriots guards are better rebounders than VCU's and will need to step up tonight.



Anonymous Charlie T said...

Very well said. Wonder who Drexel is rooting for. These type of games are not really games but tests with many subjects and we have to pass all of them. You covered them as did many of the comments from yesterday. Many thanks to the Coaches and players to have us where we are. This should be fun.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Rmjank said...

All are relevant factors, but I keep coming back to Protecting the Ball.  VCU has to be licking their chops, seeing film of our difficulties with turnovers.  If we can withstand the press reasonably well, a bunch of points should be available to us inside the paint, if we pass well.  It's a great test, the type of game everyone should be up for, and good fortune that we play them at home first.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous StopWearingPurple said...

Pearson needs to avoid dribbling.  Its usually scary when he puts the ball on the floor and with VCU they are sure to steal it.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous mooky_l3d said...

I watched an interview with Shaka Smart down here on local TV and he didn't mince words and try to sound PC about his teams chances against Mason.  I listen to Hewitt talk and it is nice to hear him say VCU will be a tough team come down to the hustle plays......  I want for Mason to have that type of disposition of confidence and not afraid to say something that others might not like.  Stop trying to be Mr. Nice Guy and be Mr. I am going to STOMP ya ASS.  Thats the type of team that needs to show up this game.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

The press is something I didn't talk about in these posts but is something that VCU does very well.  It worries me, especially if we start off shooting cold in the first half.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Don't care what they say to the press, it's what they say in the locker room that matters.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Jmckend1 said...

Pearson and Wright should be recognized by the Governor for that performance. We knew Wright was clutch, but to see the annoying Rams' fans that disappointed makes this a great start to 2012.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous mooky_l3d said...

I'm going to Sizzler, I'm going to Sizzler, WOW!  Great game.

11:21 PM  
Anonymous GMU_Prof said...

Wright just earned his picture on the GMU Hoops masthead.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Neeker90 said...

Wright and Copes the human eraser too! Copes is going to be a beast! This team keeps on improving watch out. Have been saying it all along this team has talent and much credit to coach H and staff for remaining calm and up beat.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Awesome win, awesome game.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Sherrod knew how much time he had and stayed composed and stroked it. SO MONEY. Credit P Hew for having that 5 on the floor at that time. What a great game.

8:16 AM  

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